The core function of this lab is captive breeding, care and maintenance of rare Hawaiian tree snails. We are currently working with 14 species, 9 of which (Achatinella spp.) are Federally listed as endangered. Hawaiian tree snails are members of the endemic subfamily Achatinellinae, long-lived snails with unusually low fecundity, requiring native host trees for population maintenance and survival. We have a team of dedicated students, technicians, postdoctoral researchers and interns whose responsibilities include feeding and caring for these unique, extremely rare endemic taxa.
Conservation status: Hawaiian tree snails have experienced devastating levels of species extinction: of 99 species only about 25 remain. Today all remaining populations are restricted to native forests above 600 m in elevation. The most important threat to the persistence of the tree snails is introduced predators, and a number of efforts are underway in the field and laboratory to attempt to find ways to control invasive pests and stabilize habitat such that it is once again safe for native species with little or no innate defensive capabilities.
Ecological value: The tree snails are not only esthetically important and evolutionarily informative, they are considered flagship species: their presence in the wild indicates pristine, intact forest habitats, largely free of invasive predators and plants. Native forests are crucial to human population health downslope, as they act as critical natural rainwater filtration and catchment systems for island watersheds. Rain, mist, and condensation drip from tree leaves and plants to spongy mosses and soils, where they are held, acting as reserves that recharge water resources. Without upland native forests, the rivers and aquifers that supply our plentiful clean water would wither and dry up.
Our funding is provided by the US Army Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Division and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
BACK ROW L-R: Rose Rico, Kim Boyle, Luciano Chiaverano, Brenden Holland,
Zak Williams, Sean Gershaneck, Lance Cabanting.
FRONT ROW L-R: Jaselle Perry, Melissa Wright (w/ Lily Girl),
Dylan Armstrong, Bonnie Young.
Back row l-r: Brenden Holland, Luciano Chiaverano, & Bonnie Young.
Front row: OANRP collaborators l-r: Stephanie Joe & Vince Constello.
Examples of some of the colorful and varied banding patterns of Hawaiian tree snails.
Puu Hapapa tree snail release, l-r: Dylan Armstrong,
Brenden Holland, Luciano Chiaverano, Melissa Wright
Kupuriso Ridge, Pohnpei. Partulaemersoni tree snail survey, l-r: 2 Conservation
Society of Pohnpei staff members, Brenden Holland,
and Tohoku UNiversity PhD candidate Shinichiro Wada.